Memory and Violence in Israel/Palestine*
10 Pages
English
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Memory and Violence in Israel/Palestine*

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10 Pages
English

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Memory and Violence in Israel/Palestine*

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Memory and Violence in Israel/Palestine
*
By K.M. Fierke
Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict: History’s Double
Helix, edited by Robert I. Rotberg. Indiana University Press,
2006.
Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa,
edited by Ussama Makdisi and Paul A. Silverstein. Indiana
University Press, 2006.
In 2008, Israel will turn sixty. Landmark birthdays often give rise to reflection on the past. In
this case, questions about memory, and whose memory to privilege or commemorate, may have
consequences for the future of the region. For the Israelis, the object of memory, and the vehicle of
its birth, was the 1948 “War of Independence,” where like David and Goliath, a numerically smaller
but technologically and culturally superior power, faced down a larger but inferior one. Following
just a few years after the Holocaust in Europe, Israel’s military victory offered, in the words of
Nahum Goldman, an American Zionist leader, “a glorious contrast to the centuries of persecution
and humiliation, of adaptation and compromise” (Shlaim 2000: 40). For Palestinians, and Arabs
more generally, the Israeli narrative is not merely offensive but a source of humiliation itself, given
the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians that occurred during
al Nakba
(the Catastrophe), with the
dispossession of over 750,000 indigenous inhabitants of Palestine and their descendents. For
Palestinians, the failure of the Israeli state to acknowledge 1948 as an ethnic cleansing continues to
underpin the conflict (Masalha 2005: 4).
*
I would like to thank Khaled Fattah and Tony Lang for their comments on a draft of this review essay.